#freezerlovefriday breakfast series

Summer is almost over! For our family it doesn't mean a huge change, since Lucas is not in school, but it does mean the return of school traffic and an emptier child watch at the gym! Mornings can be hectic in our house and if I don't have a good option for Ryan to grab and go, he doesn't eat breakfast. You MUST have your wheaties, if you want to have a good day, right? I am more of a "must have my coffee, before talkie," kinda girl, but we all must eat!

I thought I would do a few weeks of breakfast #freezerlovefriday to help everyone make the transition. My breakfast burrito post was such a hit, so I know these posts will help some of you. 

The first breakfast in the series will be pancakes!! We love pancakes in this house, but we don't always have the time to make a fresh batch. I have found the easiest thing to do is to make pancakes for dinner (I LOVE breakfast for dinner) and double the recipe, this way we have plenty of time to make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. These are super simple for Ryan to take to work and for Luke and I to heat up on a busy morning.

This is a pancake from scratch recipe, you will never go back to the packaged ones after this. It is simple and if you bake (even once a year) you should have all ingredients in your pantry. 


1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
3 ½ t baking powder
1 t salt 
¼ t cinnamon 
1 t vanilla
1 TB white sugar
1 ½ cup cup milk
1 egg
3 TB melted butter 


Heat skillet on medium to high heat. Make sure to use Pam or some other nonstick. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter into the bowl. Mix all ingredients until well combined. 

You can add anything you like to spice up the pancakes. We love banana pancakes (the song as much as the food), and blueberry pancakes. 

Using a 1/4 measure cup, drop pancake mix onto a preheated skillet. Wait till the batter bubbles and flip. Once completely cool, remove and keep warm until serving time. 

Cook all of your batter, eat some and set some aside to cool in order to freeze for later! 
We love using Agave in the Raw as a substitute for syrup! In fact, Luke has only had real syrup a handful of times. It has just enough sweetness and doesn't have as much sugar. Of course, syrup is always good too! 

Ok, now for the freezing. It has a few more steps than the typical #freezerlovefriday post. The idea is to keep the freshness and keep it simple to grab n' go. 
Remember, you should double this recipe if you are wanting to freeze. 

Step 1:
Layer a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place completely cooled pancakes on the sheet, single layered. If doing more than one layer make sure to separate with parchment paper. Cover with parchment paper and place in freezer for at least 6 hours. We do it overnight, but no longer. 

No those aren't burnt pancakes, I LOVE adding my vegan chocolate shakeology to banana pancakes. So yummy! 

Step 2:
Remove from freezer once completely frozen and place in plastic bags. I will typically do 2-3 a bag, since I rarely heat one at a time. 

Reheating options :
Remove from bag and microwave on a safe plate for 1.5 to 2 minutes. It is completely OK to stack the pancakes while microwaving. 

Preheat toaster oven or oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cook for 10-15 minutes, until pancakes are heated through. 

That is it! You have a very easy grab n' go breakfast option for your family. Let me know if you try this out and what you added to your pancakes. 
Look for more breakfast #freezerlovefriday posts in the coming weeks and let me know if there is anything else you want to see!

Happy freezing, 

sister visit recap

As most of you know by now, I grew up in Ohio and now live in the great southwest. Our immediate family is all over the US, and it makes seeing them very difficult. I am a HUGE promoter of moving away from the "norm" for a few years. It does amazing things for you, your relationships and your well being. What's life if you don't experience different cultures, new ideas and new people? Its invigorating!

That being said, we miss family, a lot!  Both Ryan and I's families were so close growing up, it is important to me that Luke has that same connection. So, trips that we make to visit family are extra special. We don't get to go over to my sister's for Sunday dinner, if I need a last minute babysitter, I can't call my mom, it is different but it makes the time we spend together so important. 

Recently, Luke and I made a 12 hour trek across a few states (make sure to check out my road trip post), so we could spend some quality time with my older sister and her family. It was two weeks of fun! 

We had such a wonderful visit, filled with so much love, laughs, and a few scary moments.  

The area that my sister lives has such great parks. Every city and every neighborhood has an amazing space, most with shade and some even have a splash pad! You really get the sense that it is family friendly and they want to put money into teaching their kids to play and enjoy being outdoors. I love that! We frequent parks a lot, they are free and fill the mornings with fun. 

Not only did we enjoy the local parks. But we also took advantage of Sea World's, Waves of Honor, promotion. Sea World San Antonio offers active duty, and family, one free admission a year. It is an amazing promotion and we were so lucky to have been able to use it. Make sure to look into the discount, if you are around a Sea World or a Busch Gardens! We love military discounts! 

Luke loved this place! He has never really been to an amusement park, so I wasn't sure what to expect but he really enjoyed all the activities. 

My sister loves cooking with her kids as much as I love cooking with Luke, so one night we suited the kids up with aprons and put them to work. We had so much fun making chocolate chip cookies (make sure to check the bottom of this post for my secret ingredient) and assembling a pizza. It was a fun way to pass the time and the kids did so well! 


I love, love, love running in their town. It is full of hills, which is not something I am used to, and the scenery is magical and much different than the desert. It is amazing! This time I explored some of their local trails and was very impressed. Trail running is so different depending on the terrain you are in, this one was challenging but exactly what I needed. My sister and I also got in a few workouts together, which is so much fun. If I was brave I would post the video of her and I doing Shaun T's new program, CIZE,  so you will have to take our word that it is AMAZING! 

My sister and I were lucky to be able to have a few sister dates, THANK YOU to her husband for holding down the fort and treating us to an amazing dinner out! We even got to visit a trendy bar, which is not something we SAHM's get to do very often. We have been close for many years and have gone through a lot together, she has acted as my voice of reason on many occasions and it is always nice to be reminded of how deep our friendship is. 

Thanks for the reinforcements, the laughs and the words of encouragements those two weeks! We love you all!! 

Below is my favorite cookie recipe. 
Yes, it is very similar to the nestle toll house recipe, which is where my inspiration came from, but I always add my secret ingredient, cinnamon. Trust me, you will never go back to the original!! 


2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 ½ cups chocolate chips


Preheat Oven to 350°

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. 

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and hand stir until well mixed. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets, lined with parchment paper. 

Bake for 9-11 minutes, let cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to continue cooling! 

I often like to enjoy my cookies with a glass (or a bottle) of chardonnay! 
Hope you enjoy! 

Happy travels, 


road trip shenanigans

When you live far from family you only have one option if you want to see them, travel! We have family within driving distance, but the majority of our family is across the country. My dog, Monty, has been on a plane more than the average American.  Needless to say our family are proud supporters of Southwest Airlines! 

While I much prefer a quick flight, sometimes the ease of driving is attractive. Luke and I recently took a road trip, and being the mega planner I am, I put together a bin of activities to keep him busy. With the end of summer quickly approaching, I thought it would be the perfect post for some last minute summer travels. In the past, I have (or whoever I am traveling with) has had the luxury of sitting in the backseat with him to entertain. For obvious reasons, this was not going to be an option. 

I thought this bin would be perfect for him to stash his goodies in throughout the trip. He loved having it next to him and digging around for treasures. 

Luke loves coloring!! So, I always have a few new coloring books as well as some recycled ones. These crayons are from the movie, "Cars" , and were $1 at the dollar store! Even though he has never seen the movie, he loves the themed crayons! 

Anything to keep their little minds moving is perfect. I made this green bag, using hot glue, felt and a magnetic stick on. Super easy! Inside I placed miniature LEGOS that kept him busy for hours! I received this free pencil case from a family briefing for Ryan's work and believe it or not, Luke loves just zipping it back and forth. 


These are genius and keep him busy for a long time! He hasn't quite gotten the grasp of looping them, but it is so cute to see him concentrating on getting the strong through the hole. It also helps that they have airplanes, cars and boats on the boards. 

This was a splurge for me, most of the other toys I discovered at the dollar store or the dollar bin at Target. I got it from Costco, he loves his Etch-A-Sketch, so I thought he would love this airplane themed one. I would absolutely say it was his favorite thing to find and play with. 

The day before a road trip, we will usually go on a library outing. I let Luke pick out some books to take and I pick out some audio books to listen to. Obviously, by Luke's choices, you can see he is very into trucks right now! The audio books work great for me, but they also help to put Luke to sleep throughout the trip, it is a win win! 

Of course we have to have some jams to listen to. I am not a fan of kids music, which may be why Luke knows most of T.Swift's album, but this CD was gifted to me by my dear friend, Kim. We have always loved it and he has enjoyed the songs since he was a tiny babe. I highly endorse this CD! 

I hope that you find some of this helpful! So many parents stress out about taking their kids on road trips or airplanes, but kids love adventure! All it takes is a little bit of planning and thinking ahead, and you will have be off making some great memories!!

Even the best laid plans sometimes end up in a funny story. Here is what Luke ended up using some of the paint markers for.....

Have you tried anything that you MUST share? I would love new ideas to add to my bin! 
Look for a food road trip post in the future! 

Happy traveling,


overcoming the dreaded witching hour..

It has been hot, hot, hot here lately. The hottest time of the day is around 4-5PM, and needless to say that is when Luke decides to have an alter ego of a banshee, and needs to work off some energy. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on what view you support), my kid is not a TV watcher. Try as I might, he is just not interested for more than 5 minutes. He has his moments, but it is a rare thing to see him sit on the couch and watch a show. 

There are many nights that I have to get very creative in finding things to do, so I can cook us dinner. I thought it would be fun to share with you some things that I have found help to keep him cool, calm and collected until our nightly walk after dinner! 

We LOVE the rice sensory bins. These keep him busy for a good 25 minutes and they are so easy to set out for him near the kitchen so I can cook while he plays.  Here is the link on how to make the colored rice. 

Luke loves painting and he is in the process of learning his colors, though he likes to mess with me and label everything as yellow! I send packages pretty often and I love using packaging paper to hide the "reused" box, so I have a plethora of this stuff around the house. I lay some out, tape it down and let him go to town on the paper. I will typically sit with him for 10-15 minutes to work with him on shapes and colors, and then let him loose. 

Luke's favorite toy is his play kitchen. We got that for him last Christmas, and I remember thinking that maybe he wouldn't like it. Well, I was dead wrong. He loves making us dinner and whipping up the latest pizza creation. So, I try to involve him as much as I can in the kitchen. He loves to mix things and can be such a good helper. This is a simple way to get them involved while getting dinner cooked. 

Who remembers this toy? These have saved us on many road trips, airplane trips and nights where he needs a calm activity. I think I got these from the dollar store, and they are such a hit! The first time that he successfully got the string through multiple holes was a big celebration in our house! The Melissa and Doug animal string is also a fun game for him, he likes to string them on while making the animal noise (as shown in second picture). 

This one can get a bit messy. We have a big enough kitchen that he can do this activity while I am in the kitchen, cleaning or cooking dinner. We just use dish soap and a few droplets of food coloring. I put the soap in the running water, let him play with just the bubbles for a few minutes, and then let him drop the droplets of food coloring into the bubbles. Their tiny hands may get some color on them, but use a small drop of vinegar and wash hands as normal, the color should come off. He loves it! 

Listen, they don't call it  "the witching hour" for no reason! The kids are getting hungry, they are attention hungry and they want you all to themselves. Things are not always biscuits and gravy over at the semibalanced house, after we did one of these activities we had a horrible night of tantrums and outbursts (both of us, trust me)! Parenting can be such a challenging thing, it can be hard to remember the fun times, but I always try to go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day and he will wake up just as excited to see me as he did the day before. 

Hopefully this list gives you a few ideas to help pass the time and keep the kids out of the hot weather (or cold weather, for all you winter people)!

Happy playing, 


one pan pork chops

Pork chops happen in our house very often. We love them, there are so many different ways to prepare them and bonus points for the fact that they are frequently on sale! I like them in the crock pot, grilled, or baked.  

A few months ago I was craving some pork and came up with this fabulous recipe. It is so easy and features Panko bread crumbs, which in themselves are a small slice of heaven. These are one pan pork chops, featuring a cast iron pan. I love cooking with my cast iron, it makes food taste great and for foods that need some time on the stove and in the stove, it makes the process simple. We typically will serve these chops with a side of broccoli and sweet potatoes. 


4 pork chops
1 egg
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup whole what flour 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pork chops in saran wrap and lightly flatten.

Heat cast iron, add in EVOO to coat pan.

Lay out two shallow bowls. In one mix egg well and in second mix bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. 

Dip pork chop into the egg mixture and coat well. Then transfer pork into the bread crumb mixture and coat well with bread crumb mixture. Please directly into heated cast iron. 

Continue with the rest of the pork chops.
Brown well on both sides. Typically, 2-3 minutes on each side.

Place in heated oven for roughly 15 min, until pork is cooked through. 

Let rest for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy!!

You will devour these pork chops, I am sure of it. They are perfect for a simple dinner at home but can also be used to entertain. My guy is a huge fan of this meal, as you can clearly see by his happy "cheeeese" face!

Happy cooking, 


coconut oil no bake bars

Coconut oil. This is a bandwagon that I am super late to jump onto. I blame my husband, he dislikes coconut and honestly everything I have ever tasted that uses coconut oil, tastes like coconut. According to Authority Nutrition, coconut oil can do everything from boost your brain energy to help your body burn more calories. Sign me up! I recently started using it on my nails and cuticles, and I am loving the effect! I love a painted nail but know that long term it can make my nails look dull and tired, well coconut oil fixed that right up. I also love using it as a moisturizer on my hands, AZ is dry people! So, I am easing into cooking with it by using it as a beauty treatment, not bad right? 

I am currently loving Trader Joe's coconut oil. It is easy on the wallet and the perfect size for what I am using! Here is a great article highlighting their coconut oil! 

You might be wondering how my using coconut oil on my nails can turn into a #freezerlovefriday post. Well, wonder no more! I am here to introduce you to these amazing No Bake Bars. I made an entire sheet, and continued to eat the entire sheet. So, the next time I made them, I ate half and froze half. It was wonderful to have something in the freezer that I could take out and enjoy, when I was in the mood. 

The original recipe and where I got my inspiration, can be found at Money Saving Mom. Mine is slightly different, but not too much! 

1 cup peanut butter
½ cup agave in the raw(or honey)
½ cup coconut oil (you could also substitute butter)
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 ¼ cups dark chocolate chips (or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the peanut butter, agave in the raw, and coconut oil over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.
Remove from heat once it’s melted together and add in the oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Stir together until the chocolate is completely melted.
Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and cool in the fridge. 
When the mixture is hardened, cut into bars and eat. Make sure you store them in the fridge, they will melt quickly!

Since this is a #freezerlovefriday post, I want to let you know how I stored mine in the freezer. I cut them into two smallish square pieces and placed them in a zip lock. This made it so easy to reach in and grab one (or two) to enjoy when I needed my chocolate fix. Unfortunately, I gobbled them all up before I snapped a pic! So, trust me on this one, it was perfect frozen!
I promise you will not be disappointed by these yummy bars! They are perfect for a grab n go snack or late night craving.

Happy freezing,

the very berry greek popsicle

Why is it the day after you throw out all ice cream in your fridge, you desperately want ice cream? I am not an ice cream person, my husband is, so we typically have some in our freezer. Occasionally, I go through sugar purging mode, and get rid of all the mostly eaten culprits. Ice cream is not my go to sweet, but when I CAN'T have it, I want it. I suppose that theory could be applied to many things in life, but a week ago it was applied to me needing ice cream and having none on hand. 

Insert our newest Popsicle creation, The Very Berry Greek Popsicle! 

Super simple ingredients and very easy to whip up! 

1 cup greek yogurt (we use Greek God's Honey Greek Yogurt)
1 cup blueberries
BIG handful of spinach
1 tbsp of Agave in the Raw (if you don't use a flavored greek yogurt, I would go with 2-3 tbsp)

Throw in the yogurt, blueberries and agave in the raw, blend!

Throw in your handful of spinach, blend until well incorporated.

Pour into your Popsicle forms and let freeze for at least 2 hours. 

As always, I made a little smoothie for an afternoon snack for Luke and poured the rest into the forms. We enjoyed these out on the patio for dessert and Luke was a BIG fan. 

This is his, "mom, I just want to eat my popsicle" face! 

I think that I have successfully made this into the summer of the Popsicle. We are having so much fun coming up with these variations. What else would you want to see put into Popsicle form?

Happy blending,